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Chapter 5

Chapter 5. Bodily Changes and Emotion

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Gerald Cupchik

Chapter 5. Bodily Changes and Emotion Monday, February 14, 2011 12:21 AM William James proposed that every emotion involves a distinct bodily reverberation detected by the autonomic nervous system and by neural signals from the workings of our muscles. Autonomic nervous system: part of the nervous system concerned with the inside of the body, and thought by William James to be important in the production of emotions as perceptions of bodily change. It has two divisions: the parasympathetic and sympathetic. { Most general function is to maintain the internal condition of the body, to enable adaptive response to varying environmental events. { Closely related to various behaviours with direct relevance to emotion, including defensive behaviour, sexual behaviour, and aggression. { Controls processes such as digestion, bodily fluids, blood flow, and temperature. { Parasympathetic nervous system: one of the two divisions of the ANS. Actions of this system tends toward quieting and recuperation. Helps with restorative processes, reducing heart rate and blood pressure and increasing digestive processes. { Sympathetic nervous system: one of the two divisions of the ANS. Actions of this system tends toward arousal, and preparation for fight or flight. Increases heart rate, blood pressure, and cardiac output and shuts down digestive processes, to help the individual to engage in physically demanding situations. William James autonomic specificity has two kinds of support: { There are over a dozen distinct autonomic pathways that activate different regions of the body, so different emotions could potentially be involved with distinct pathways in the ANS. { One can imagine many different ways in which components of the autonomic system could combine, including heart rate, blood flow to the skin, sweating, production of tears, stomach activity, and breathing. Such patterns could plausibly account for the diversity of emotional experience. Walter Cannon proposed that quite different emotions involved exactly the same general activation of the sympathetic nervous system. { This so-called arousal response includes release of the hormone adrenaline. Effects of this sympathetic-adrenal response are a shift of bodily resources to prepare for action,
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